CD Projekt and Polish developer Fool's Theory (previously known for Seven: The Days Long Gone) have announced that the latter company is in the process of remaking the first game in the Witcher series in Unreal Engine 5.
The project is one of the previously-teased games that CD Projekt unveiled back in September. Back then, the game's code name was "Canis Majoris." Now we know that it's a ground-up remake of the game that introduced Geralt of Rivia to Witcher fans outside of Poland.
According to CD Projekt, Fool's Theory will be working with "the same toolset" that CD Projekt Red is using to develop the next Witcher game. That seems to imply that CD Projekt is interested in having a support studio that can assist development on the next game if extra resources are needed. Fool's Theory has already done development support work for Larian Studios on both the Divinity series and Baldur's Gate III.
For many developers at Fool's Theory, working on a remake of The Witcher will be a return to old stomping grounds. That's because the company was founded and is staffed by several former developers from CD Projekt Red. Fool's Theory CEO Jakub Rokosz said in a statement that he's personally happy to be crossing paths again with "fellow developers from the time of working together on The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3."
There are plenty of reasons to remake The Witcher
CD Projekt is now joining major companies like Capcom and Naughty Dog in building a business out of reviving older games. The effort has mostly been a financial success for other game developers, as it gives them a chance to revisit the "first" entry in a game series without doing a whole-brand reboot.
Games like Resident Evil 2 Remake and The Last of Us Part I help keep these critically-and-commercially titles on store shelves, and also buoy efforts to sell these brands through other media like live-action series or animation.
In fact, there's a pretty straightforward business interest in having a fresh entry point into The Witcher series at CD Projekt. If Netflix's live-action series starring Henry Cavill continues to bring new fans into the franchise, there's probably value in having a game called The Witcher available for them to find, rather than expecting them all to dive into a game called The Witcher III.
(Not that the "III" in that game's name has deterred new fans from finding the series however. CD Projekt has strongly benefitted from Netflix's adaptations of the same franchises it's making games out of).
With the game being rebuilt in Unreal Engine 5, Fool's Theory will also have plenty of opportunity to revisit the somewhat clunky combat mechanics of the first game and other dated concepts like...the playing cards players can earn that depict pinup art of Geralt's various sexual partners.
Said pinup cards were partly censored when the game was released in North America, but the Director's Cut edition of the first game restored their full content. The system has been criticized over the years for treating women's bodies as a reward for player progression.
CD Projekt Red abandoned the card system when making The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Whatever one thinks about the concepts of sex and sexuality in games, it's probably notable that CD Projekt Red chose to abandon this specific system while still letting Witcher players romance various women in the course of Geralt's adventures.